About The Network

We are a not-for-profit organisation providing support groups for adults in the Hawkesbury, Penrith and Blue Mountains local government areas. The Network offers a safe space for people to meet and express their feelings, within the bounds of confidentiality, compassion and support.

Our history and vision

Our story begins with a forum in Penrith that was held on October 30th 2008 for families and interested community members bereaved by suicide. This was the initiative of Genean Beetson to raise awareness of suicide prevention programs and support networks for those who had lost a loved one to suicide. Genean was working for a local funeral service provider and had noticed an increase in suicide-related deaths coming into the funeral home. She knew how difficult it was to describe the emotion one feels when sitting with families bereaved by suicide.

Genean was inspired by the number of people who attended the forum and the willingness of some to leave their names to participate in a support group being set up in Penrith. The Network was incorporated in early 2009 and continues to meet regularly with an evolving mix of health professionals and passionate volunteers being involved from across our communities.

Our foundation Network members adopted a vision with the following three goals that are worth noting as we continue to evolve our desire to embrace our community.

  • Supporting bereaved families
  • Providing a voice for those affected by suicide
  • Raising public awareness of services to assist suicide prevention

At times the divergent views of our Network members have proved a challenge with our vision and purpose being adjusted to suit the member mix at any particular time.

The Network remains strong and determined to make a difference for people bereaved by suicide. After one particular challenge in 2016 we revisited the question: which local communities should we work in? Our trading name at the time, Western Sydney Suicide Prevention and Support Network, suggested we should offer our services over a very large geographical area that sometimes confused and fragmented our efforts.

We decided to concentrate our efforts on the Wentworth Primary Health Network and the Nepean Blue Mountains Local Health District that cover the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury, Lithgow and Penrith local government areas.

Bereavement Support Groups have always been a core activity for The Network with the Penrith Support Group available monthly since The Network was established. This Group has been facilitated by volunteers until early 2010.

The Windsor Support Group was successfully re-established in late 2016 with a health professional facilitating the fortnightly meetings. The evolving operation of this Support Group has provided the inspiration for our vision to establish six Support Groups in total. These are in the Blue Mountains, Hawkesbury and Penrith local government areas and are being funded from the Muster Grant we received in early 2020.

In early 2020 we undertook a strategic review of all our activities and decided to adopt a simplified approach by adopting the name ‘The Network’ with the vision to support people bereaved by suicide as the inspiration and motivation for all we do.

What is suicide bereavement?

To lose a loved one prematurely through their suicide can be devastating. For every suicide, there are many people directly affected, including family, friends, colleagues and the wider community. As with any type of distress it is essential to look after yourself emotionally and physically and to seek help when you need to.

There is a recognised stigma around suicide, which can make it difficult for people to express their grief and to get the necessary support and validation for their loss. Connecting with people who are going through a similar experience can be very powerful and a relief to be able to talk openly with people who understand. For many, this becomes a crucial part of their healing process through the support and sharing of emotions in a safe space.

Bereavement associated with suicide is complex because of the combination of trauma and grief. People often experience overwhelming feelings of loss, anger, rejection, blame, remorse, guilt, stigma, isolation, shame, embarrassment and helplessness (B. Feigelman & Feigelman, 2008).

 

Joining a Network Support Group is easy, just make the call.

 

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